Obama administration scare-mongering on airplane safety

posted at 10:24 am on July 8, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

As anyone who knows me can attest, I dislike flying intensely.  I do it, though, for two reasons.  One, there just isn’t any other way to travel practically in today’s business environment.  Taking three days to get somewhere on a train may feel nostalgic, but it’s a colossal waste of time, and it usually winds up costing more than a flight anyway.

Secondly, despite my white knuckles and perspiration-soaked shirt during the flight, I understand intellectually that flying is a remarkably safe mode of transportation.  There is a difference between fear and senselessness, a distinction apparently lost on the Obama administration, as David Harsanyi explains:

[W]hen LaHood berated me for suggesting that flying in a commercial airplane was a safe mode of transportation, I knew he was perfect for a Cabinet position.

In his best Illinois tough-guy form, LaHood was in the middle of grandstanding about the need for new regulations covering airlines and pilots, who, despite those imposing uniforms, according to LaHood, display the accountability of a pro athlete. And if airlines did not voluntarily hand over this personal information, Ray LaHood would make them do it.

When I asked LaHood if there was an outbreak of gruesome airline calamities that had somehow escaped my attention, he suggested I ask the relatives of those who died in a recent commuter jet accident about safety. Americans, he declared, were demanding more regulation. And he ended with a sarcastic quip, “I’m happy you feel safe.”

Oh, I do. Why wouldn’t I? There wasn’t a single U.S. airline passenger death due to an accident in 2007 and 2008, years in which commercial airliners carried 1.5 billion passengers. If you are a skateboarder, skier, pedestrian or train rider, your chances of dying are far higher.

This is the equivalent of Joe Biden getting on national television and telling people to stay off public transportation because they are incubators of disease.  We scoffed at Biden, and laughed with derision when Robert Gibbs attempted to claim that Biden didn’t mean what he’d said.  LaHood confirms that the Obama White House has become the Chicken Little Administration — the sky is always falling, in this case literally.

It goes beyond attempting to expand the federal grasp of personal information to American pilots, but let’s stay with that a moment.  As Harsanyi points out, each year over 700 cyclists die on the highway, a number far greater than in US airline-industry accidents in almost any year.  Auto accidents account for at least sixty times that number each year.  The airline industry flew over a billion passengers in 2007-8 and had zero fatalities.  That’s impressive, and demonstrates the incredible safety record of the industry, for which we can in large part thank the highly skilled, dedicated, professional men and women flying the aircraft that carry us from city to city — even when some of us are pushing our fingerprints permanently into the armrests.

To the larger point, LaHood should be defending this industry instead of screeching about falling skies and airplanes.  Why is he fomenting panic?  Because that’s what this administration does.  If a crisis doesn’t exist, they don’t have an entree to overhaul entire industries into state-controlled junior bureaucracies, complete with patronage jobs and political chits to recover.  The Obama administration has to be in constant Chicken Little mode in order to frighten us into acquiescing to their ideas of change.


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I’m surprised no one hit on this yet:

As Harsanyi points out, each year over 700 cyclists die on the highway, a number far greater than in US airline-industry accidents in almost any year. Auto accidents account for at least sixty times that number each year.

The over regulation of a safe industry shouldn’t stop with airlines and pilots. Everyone who rides a bike or drives a car must submit to rigorous standards and extreme invasion of privacy to retain the right to be on the road. Resistance is futile and besides… it’s for your own good!

Ordinary1 on July 8, 2009 at 11:32 AM

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

–HL Mencken

Mencken had it right on so many fronts.

iurockhead on July 8, 2009 at 11:33 AM

Resistance is futile and besides… it’s for your own good!

Ordinary1 on July 8, 2009 at 11:32 AM

The new energy-efficient, 30-mph, government-designed golf cart will solve that problem. Think scooters instead of cycles.

genso on July 8, 2009 at 11:35 AM

….but this needs to be regulated…

myrenovations on July 8,2009 at 11:12AM.

myrenovations:

Here here,I agree,nasty stuff!

Tax your ass for your gas,(TAFG TAX)AHEM:)

canopfor on July 8, 2009 at 11:35 AM

We have a flying crisis. The current state of flying is unsustainable. If we don’t act now to pass this $1 trillion flying safety package…

Daggett on July 8, 2009 at 10:30 AM

Yup….Monty Python’s Flying Crisis…..expect the absurd.

Patrick S on July 8, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Good to see Andrew Sullivan caring about Sarah Palin’s family’s health. Chutzpah!

and

Rahm Emanuel’s other brother (not the foul mouthed agent) is deciding who gets special treatment under Obamacare and who does not. A criteria exists for those who “contribute.” While this is supposedly for organ donors (of course you are dead most of the time you donate organs so perhaps this is for your family) could it also apply to those who “contribute” in other ways? Time will tell.

What could go wrong?

Mr. Joe on July 8, 2009 at 11:37 AM

SouthernGent on July 8, 2009 at 11:18 AM

Predictions on the settling point for those two percentages? My uninformed gut feels that O will never go below 25% strong approval. I think it will be interesting to watch the strong disapproval percentage. It’s 37% now. I’d actually put money on 45% by Labor Day because economic news will not be improving, and then Americans will be looking at a long fall and winter with little hope in the air. Meanwhile, Obama will be tilting at his windmills of cap-and-tax and inappropriate healthcare reform.

BuckeyeSam on July 8, 2009 at 11:39 AM

LaHood is LaScared. What a prize he has been for the Obama cabinet. LaHood is an example of a politician who can create a disaster with no basis in the truth. This is what happens when a lie is invented, almost out of whole cloth. LaHood obviously can’t determine what is fact from fiction when it is applies to a distinguished air travel safety record. What a pseudo-intellectual LaHood has shown himself to be. I say we let him mastigate on that castigation awhile.

Americannodash on July 8, 2009 at 11:40 AM

I’m surprised no one hit on this yet:

As Harsanyi points out, each year over 700 cyclists die on the highway, a number far greater than in US airline-industry accidents in almost any year. Auto accidents account for at least sixty times that number each year.

The over regulation of a safe industry shouldn’t stop with airlines and pilots. Everyone who rides a bike or drives a car must submit to rigorous standards and extreme invasion of privacy to retain the right to be on the road. Resistance is futile and besides… it’s for your own good!

Ordinary1 on July 8, 2009 at 11:32 AM

Ah, but the “I ride my bike to work” demographic may tend to lean left when voting…

Upstater85 on July 8, 2009 at 11:42 AM

LaHood ignores facts, and trumpets hysteria. He is a perfect fit in this administration.

Vashta.Nerada on July 8, 2009 at 11:43 AM

Ah, but the “I ride my bike to work” demographic may tend to lean left when voting…

Upstater85 on July 8, 2009 at 11:42 AM

and when turning left…

Ordinary1 on July 8, 2009 at 11:43 AM

Upstater85 on July 8, 2009 at 11:42 AM

the “I ride my bike to work” demographic may tend to lean left when voting…

As someone who gave up driving three years ago, I can confirm: the vast majority commuter cyclists skew left. Then again, the vast majority of cyclist are weekend warriors with massive SUVs who drive 45 miles to cycle for 20 minutes on something that costs more than every car I ever owned combined.
It’s a weird world out there.

fronclynne on July 8, 2009 at 12:01 PM

LaHood: “Treasury’s got a crisis… I want one, too!”

n0doz on July 8, 2009 at 12:15 PM

You know when you get ready to take off and they say, we are delayed due to mechanical condition? The odds are that the plane could take off and be fine. . . the delay is for the REDUNDANT system to be fixed – just in case.

ThackerAgency on July 8, 2009 at 11:04 AM

I heard a story once about an Air Jamaica flight that had its takeoff delayed because…one of the portable fire extinguishers in first class wasn’t working.

Del Dolemonte on July 8, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Airline pilots are held to higher standards then commuter pilots. A large majority of airline pilots are ex-military. I doubt the guy even understands the difference. Commuter pilots should be at least held to the same standard as airline pilots.

budorob on July 8, 2009 at 12:30 PM

Commercial flight disasters looming… FDR went on TV in 1929 warning us about the same danger.

mankai on July 8, 2009 at 10:28 AM

I can understand this if it were 1929. The airlines were just getting started in the 1910’s and 1920’s. Fear of the unknown is easily understood, but after 80 years, fear needs to be thrown out the window.

jeridhill on July 8, 2009 at 11:07 AM

Thanks… I think… I was making fun of Biden’s statement that FDR went on TV in 1929 to calm the nation after the stock market crash.

mankai on July 8, 2009 at 12:50 PM

Isn’t Boeing currently delaying delivery of certain aircraft? And Airbus 300 series.

Christien on July 8, 2009 at 1:12 PM

“Secondly, despite my white knuckles and perspiration-soaked shirt during the flight, “

Thanks Ed, that makes you SO pleasant to fly with…

holdfast on July 8, 2009 at 1:12 PM

This administration is going to assume all risk and all liability for us – they will foment disasters (such as the economic one) so that they are called on to pick up the pieces and fix it for us.

It’s disaster entrepreneur-ism at it’s very best: as if wrecker drivers were allowed to put spike strips and freeways then wait nearby for the work….

ElRonaldo on July 8, 2009 at 2:36 PM

“each year over 700 cyclists die on the highway, a number far greater than in US airline-industry accidents in almost any year”

Great. Now we’ll be taxed to build $500 billion worth of bike paths throughout the US.

jack herman on July 8, 2009 at 2:36 PM

It’s not the pilots making air travel unsafe:

News 8 Investigates: Airline mechanics who can’t read English

Aircraft repair jobs sold to foreign workers, resumes not important

Aircraft Repair Jobs Revisited

Rae on July 8, 2009 at 12:35 PM

They need to do an investigation into pilots that don’t use their directional to signal turns.

Jeff from WI on July 8, 2009 at 3:33 PM

As anyone who knows me can attest, I dislike flying intensely.

Ed, I’ll tell you what a fellow employee told me when I worked in the aerospace industry:

“It’s not the flying part that scares me about flying, it’s the crashing part that scares me…”

I feel for you Ed and I understand as I used to be just like you whenever I had to fly. You wouldn’t think the son of an Airforce lifer would of had issues but I did.

I took a job with a company in 1999 that required me to fly quite a bit and I was always a basket case even after having several stiff drinks, however after almost 10 years I’ve become more accustomed to it and I’m better than I used to be.

Just remember, flying truly is the safest part of your trip, so whenever you fly keep repeating this mantra along with a couple of stiff drinks and you’ll be fine!

Liberty or Death on July 8, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Only about a dozen US airlines have gone out of business since 2007, with over 100k jobs lost. Low travel demand and recent fuel price increases, coupled with Obamas floundering economy have put the industry on an unstable footing.

Now is the perfect time to cry wolf.

What could go wrong?

Wingo on July 8, 2009 at 4:20 PM

Liberty or Death on July 8, 2009 at 3:35 PM

It’s not the fall that kills you. It’s the sudden stop at the end.

MarkTheGreat on July 8, 2009 at 4:20 PM

It’s not the fall that kills you. It’s the sudden stop at the end.

MarkTheGreat on July 8, 2009 at 4:20 PM

Hah…how true, kind of like that Bugs quote, “watch that first step it’s a doozy!”

Liberty or Death on July 8, 2009 at 4:48 PM

As Rahm would say, never waste a good crisis.

And if there isn’t a crisis, well then, better manufacture one – and then make sure you don’t waste it.

redfoxbluestate on July 8, 2009 at 5:00 PM

so whenever you fly keep repeating this mantra along with a couple of stiff drinks and you’ll be fine!

Liberty or Death

Unless of course, you crash. ;)

Sterling Holobyte on July 8, 2009 at 5:40 PM

That Air Force 1.5 low-level strafing run over NYC seemed unsafe enough.A regulation might help that. I could also go for state-of-the-art ejection seats for everyone on board all aircraft. Good for days when your flight attendant is treating you like crap for paying all that money for a ticket and expecting not to be treated like a turd.Punch out.Way you go! That would be a nice touch. Otherwise, what we have here is yet another illiberal Bummer thang.Looky, I am really worried about stinky feet. We need severe stinky feet regulations or something.Fines and stuff. Generate monies for California along with the marijuana tax. Crazy world: Tobacco bad. Marijuana good. Hey! I thought of the stinky foot tax first! I do expect a small piece of the action. Look at Gore! He is making off like a bandit with the gold heading for Mexico . . . .Scot free and Beyond the Pale!

Sherman1864 on July 8, 2009 at 8:24 PM

Comment pages: 1 2